Ghost in the 404: This Month’s Best Electronic and Dance Music

Ghost in the 404 returns with tracks from DJ Manny, Kush Jones, "the actual horniest song of the summer," and more.
By    September 9, 2020

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Sam Ribakoff’s got the tape measure in case you get too close.

Stefan Ringer – “How I Like It (feat. Ash Lauryn)” and Couture – “Simp Shit”

While everyone and their conservative grandpas took a break from our fast descent into facism to yak about Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP,” Atlanta’s Stefan Ringer and Ash Lauryn quietly dropped the actual horniest song of our summer of discontent, “How I Like It.” Over a sultry house beat, filled with warm synths and a pulsating bass line, Lauryn, in an ASMR, phone sex whisper, coos about liking something “hard” and “you” liking it “really deep.” “That’s how we like it,” concludes one of the best house DJs in the country. I’m getting hot flashes just writing this. God help us if Ben Shapiro finds out about this track. 

Mashups usually suck. They’re usually the result of someone trying to be funny by mixing like Avril Lavigne with Rich Boy [glares towards Girl Talk,] but this mashup of Megan Thee Stallion’s “Cash Shit” and slick Brazilian baile funk by way of American bass music, Sango instrumental, is just fun, raunchy, silly music for summer parties that could have been.      

Foreigner – “Mas Movement” and Robert Hood – “The Struggle”

Speaking of summer jams, L.A. club hero Foreigner is back again this month with another summer of discontent social justice soca jam. Like June’s “Touch Ground,” “Mas Movement” heavily samples the dearly departed Black power activist and organizer Kwame Ture, whose voice on this track sounds like the collective ghosts of civil and social justice movements in history marshalling behind the bass in this track.

Producers sampling speeches and rallies and political and social justice slogans is nothing new. From the classic Martin Luther King sample in Mr. Finger’s “Can You Feel It,” to Schwarz’s Baltimore club track “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” [which seems to have been scrubbed from the internet now.]  sampling of the rallying cry of the Ferguson uprising, to Juke Bounce Werk’s “State of Emergency,” which sampled Tamika Mallory’s impassioned speech in Minneapolis days after the murder of George Floyd. On “The Struggle,” minimal techno godfather, and founder of Underground Resistance, Robert Hood takes on the same speech by Tamika Mallory and surrounds it with simmering bass and synths, accentuating and accompanying the righteous anger and resolve in Mallory’s words.          

DJ Manny – “You Are Good” and CGI Dog – “Hypo”

DJ Manny from Chicago’s Teklife footwork/juke music dynasty chops up house diva vocals into a hyperkinetic dancefloor monster. What else do you need in life? If I’m not mistaken, access to good footwork/juke music is just above food, water, and shelter on Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. So come get what you need here. 

It’s always cool to hear kids messing around with the kind of cinematic, ambient, drum and bass soul of Timeless era Goldie, especially kids from L.A., like CGI Dog on this track called “Hypo”        

Green-House – “Passiflora” and Leimer – “Slight, Far”

Longform Editions is an amazing little online music distributor based out of Sydney, Australia that gives ambient, new age, and experimental musicians the platform to record and upload long, and I mean long, tracks. Most of the tracks in the series are 20 minutes to an hour long, which might seem intimidating, but if you’re a fan of ambient or new age music, you want to hear your favorite ambient or new age musician on this series. That long ass time frame gives musicians, and you the listener, time to just sink in and meander around. L.A.’s Green-House and Seattle ambient legend K.Leimer both dropped two excellent tracks for this series this month that are prime examples of the beauty of meandering ambient music.        

Dominowe – Away from Home and A.G. Cook – 7G

In March, as the world started to close, and people started losing their jobs, and DJs and producers began to foresee a bleak future of no tour dates or clubs to play, many DJs and producers took to Bandcamp to generate some income by releasing compilations of demos, edits and remixes. There have been some good ones, and shoutout to producers and DJs hustling, but this compilation of South African gqom tracks by Dominowe is without a doubt the best demo compilation that I’ve heard in the last couple of months.

Gqom, the mutant spawn of South African house music, techno, Miami Bass, and South African kwaito music,  sounds like slow, chopped and screwed footwork/juke music. It rose out of Durban, South Africa, caught a buzz in Europe that only slightly touched the U.S., and got some DJs and producers from Durban some record contracts in the past couple of years — which in all honesty, were often overproduced and too slick.

Away from Home is anything but overproduced. The tracks on here are grimey, marauding, strutting, industrial powerhouses all the way through. Clipped, repetitive vocal samples are cut with ice pick snares hitting clave rhythms, horror movie atmospheric synths and sound effects, intercut with the occasional guitar plings and even an acoustic guitar track subtitled “conscious traditional rock.”  Even that track bangs. The producer, Dominowe, was supposed to be readying his debut album until a horrible robbery left him without his computer and recording equipment. The label GQOM OH! are releasing this compilation as a crowdfunding effort to help Dominowe buy a new computer and new recording equipment. Help a producer out and buy this record to help him keep making hard ass music into the future.     

A.G. Cook, the P.C. Music don dada, and in many ways, the godparent of the hyper online, hyper-global, hyper-obtuse, and hyper-eclectic strain of modern pop music, dropped a Bollywood movie of an album, the seven-disc, 2 hours and 40 minutes, 7G. Like a Bollywood movie, it’s overstuffed with ideas and sketches of ideas, from wigged out drum and bass, to weird Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis type electro soul experiment, to video game music, to gabber, to really nice acoustic dream pop tracks, but it’s all too much for even the biggest A.G. Cook stan to stand, and eventually, you just want it to end. In between the excitement of hearing a really fun and innovative producer try out all their weirdest ideas, and the ennui of scrolling down the tracklist, wondering how many more tracks are left, there are some really interesting gems to be uncovered and cherished. 

Bored Lord – Weapon of Sound and Les Sins and AceMo – C’Mon Les’ Go

Bored Lord has been steadily releasing really fun rave remixes of popular songs for the past couple months, and before that, really fun rave remixes of nu-metal songs. The tracks here on Weapon of Sound are all fun rave jams (and one nu-metal sounding track for old-times sake), that move the rave from the impossible of the dancefloor to the streets. Bored Lord was arrested recently at a protest in Oakland in solidarity with the family of Jacob Blake and protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin. According to a Gofundme page, she was released after posting bail, but she’s facing a court case on felony charges with a $50,000 bail on unspecified charges. So don’t just buy her album, but donate to her bail fund here.  

Toro Y Moi, especially as Les Sins, his dance music side project, is unfuckwithable, add in New York’s AceMo as a collaborator, and you got a problem. This short EP is full of all enveloping midnight blue synths, crisp New York house drums, and soon to be monotone house vocal anthems like “Can’t Take it Anymore,”  if clubs ever open up again.    

Kush Jones – Relief 4 and DJ Ends – Pretty Girls Like Footwork 2 

For a couple years now, New York’s Kush Jones has been one of the brightest rising stars in the dance music scene. Jones is a workaholic, producing and releasing EPs and singles multiple times a month, in a variety of styles, from footwork to a kind of club music looking update of the New York house sound, and it’s all quality. This month’s release, Relief 4 is one of my favorites, especially the melodic chops on the footwork/juke with a little hint of vogue/ballroom music cut “Keep Hatin.” It’s been awhile since I was in New York, but Relief 4 is what the city sounds like in my heart of hearts. 

German footwork/juke music producer DJ Ends definitely sounds like he’s got New York on his mind as well on his most recent release, Pretty Girls Like Footwork 2. On the album, Ends flips a bunch of mellow R&B tracks into mellow, glittery, footwork/juke music that sounds like late 90’s, early 2000’s NYC. Like if Swizz Beatz made footwork/juke music. 

Glenn Underground – Crescendo & Urban Ensemble and Shinedoe – Ahimsa 

Our political leaders would rather us die than actually work to mitigate the continuing spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. Consequently, most of the world’s borders are closed to Americans, so we can’t even physically leave out of this hell hole. Might I suggest taking a nice vacation with Glenn Underground and Shinedoe in your mind instead? Chicago legend Glenn Underground released this month the audio equivalent of a mimosa sipped during a daytime party at Ibiza in the form of the bossa nova-house “Crescendo.” The flip side, “Urban Ensemble,” is a funk groove that sounds like dancing while sipping Amaretto sours. Shinedoe’s Ahimsa sounds the nighttime part of the party on the beach, with muddy, funky, ethereal tech-house misty grooves. 

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